Saturday, July 15, 2000

Viva Italia!

Bon Giorno!!

OK, I hope you guys appreciate the pla-by-play
updates, if not, hit DELETE now. I took a 10-minute
train ride and hiked for 20 minutes to get to this
little wayside Italian Riviera village, Montessoro.
(If you want a peak of the beautiful set of five
fishing villages called Cinque Terre, try:

I think at this point, after spending seven whirlwind
days all over Italy, this is my favorite country so
far. The food is great|| Hey, can't go wrong with
Wine, Pizza or Pasta. All the walking, hiking and
stairs have kept the carbs off.. for now. Plus, no
accidents so far - cross your fingers!!

I still stand behind Venice as my favorite city with
Rome a close second and Florence, good third! The
Sistine Chapel, St. Peter's Basilica and Vatican City
are more wonderous that I expected. If and when you
guys get here, climb St. Peter's dome, designed by
Michelangelo - the 500+ steps are worth the view!!

I walked all over the city, from the Colluseum, Forum
and Pantheon - to the Trevi fountain, but never got
throw my coin in due to an fashion show they had set
up that night - I know there was a lot of lights and
special effects, the models were barely wearing any
clothes - much to the delight of the male members of
our group.

I am totally convinced that when shopaholics die, they
go to Florence. I have exceeded my Italy budget,
partially due to some Venetian glass, clothing and
shoes in Florence. I am trying to keep it under £ 3
Million Lire at this point. (You figure it out..)

Yesterday and today, we have our "vacation from our
vacation" in a very cute set of five fishing villages
off the Italian Mediterenean called "Cinque Terre" -
we are staying at the one called Veranzza, it's
beautiful out here and I, for one, greatly appreciate
the rest from all the tours and museum and general
militia travel.. ;-)

Well, off to Switzerland tomorrow, I'll email when I
can again. I am very homesick and on the constant
lookout for Golden Arches - jk.


Saturday, July 08, 2000

Land of a Thousand Accordions

Ah, Venice! If you ever have the chance to read Anne
Rice's compelling story, "Cry To Heaven" - it
describes Venice in it's hey days and according to the
guides here, it hasn't changed much since the 1500s.

Well, here I am 7am at a 24-Hour 'Cybernetico Kaffe'
in what must be the most breathtaking city I have ever
been in... I have been walking around most of this
morning, got my shot of expresso - which, if Starbucks
made it the way they make it here, I'll never go back
to regular coffee. Ok, while I am on my caffine high,
let me pump this email out... ;-)

I feel like pinching myself every other minute!
Unfortunately, the rain that had plagued our tour in
Germany and in Austria has followed us last night.
But the massive lighting, thunder and rain the size of
dimes just adds Venice's dramatic beauty.

On a personal note, I am recovering from my *first*
accident just fine and have picked up about three more
cuts on my *second* accident during our Alpine slide
in Austria yesterday. All thanks to Dave, (better
known as 'Most likely tour member to be voted off the
group') who rammed his luge into mine, knocking me
sideways as I continued to slide on my leg on yet
*another* steel plank.

So, in addition to my left knee injury, I have burns
and skin peels on my lower left leg, and hands as I
tried to right myself. I believe I am now known as
group klutz or blood donor - take your pick.

Back to Venice. We walked to San Marco square during
sunset - Wow!! Listened to all these bands taking
turn playing one after the other througout the
square. I walked and listened to Mozart, the theme
from God Father, other beautiful songs being played...
(Sher - you would totally die!!)

I got seperated from some folks I was hanging around,
but Venice is an island, and getting lost in a
thunderstorm wasn't so bad. I just kept walking and
walking and somehow ended back to my hotel.

Although the shops were closed, they were brightly
lit. Oh my God, the shops here!! The clothes,
masks, blown glass, Gucci, Versace, Armani... (Eunice
- you would totally die!)

Today we have have a local who'll give us a guided
walking tour of Venice, a glass-blowing demo and
tonight we have our gondola rides through the canals.

My secret shame of accordion playing came out sometime
during the nightly pub & beer crawls in Germany and
now the group is trying to rustle up one for me - oh
God, what did I get myself into! ;-)

Talk to you guys soon, love ya, Ciao!!!


p.s. This place has a scanner, so I am going to try
and scan an Amsterdam picture that I have and send
that to y'all.

Wednesday, July 05, 2000

Romantic Germanz

Hi everzone -

If zou think I am tzping funnz it's because the 'y'
and the 'z' have changed places on the kezboard, and
rather than correcting, I think it adds that bit of
Deustchland flavor this email needs.

The good news: Germanz is wildlz romantic with
Castles left and right, small villages (sure,
overflowing with tourist) but thez all leave at 5pm
and the sun doesn't set until 11pm here. That leaves
time for exploring, getting lost, sazing: Guten Tag to
strangers, searching for biergardens in the

The bad news: For mz friends who know about the tree
falling on mz car a few zears ago, the Forth of Julz
has never been kind to me. It was raining prettz hard
zesterdaz and when I got off our Rhine River cruise, I
walked down the steel gang plank, slipped, did the
splits and squarelz hit mz left knee on a steel keat.

The first few seconds of excrutiating pain can best be
described as taking a baseball bat to zour knee. I
felt like passing out from the sheer pain had I not
been lifted up and awaz to a bench. It was so painful
I couldn't speak even if I tried. I didn't realiye
how bad it was until I saw blood gushing down mz leg.
Thez wanted to put stiches on, but I opted for a
German Birthdaz scar instead.

Not to worrz, free pints of Beer and prescription
drugs donated bz the seniors in our group have helped
with the dull throbbing pain.

Tomorrow, we visit Mad Ludwig's Neuschwanstein Castle
(attached), Dachau Concentration Camp and Munich
ending at the bottom of the Austria Alps for the next
two nights.

I'll email next in Venice. Hope evezrone had a good
Fourth! Miss zou guzs,


Sunday, July 02, 2000

Netherlands... Land of Waffles & Bells

OK - gotta make this quick - time is short on the net
there is other people in line.


I felt short in the US, but here I feel like breaking
into song in a high squeeky voice: "Follow the Yellow
Brick Road!!" Dang!! These guys are tall here!!!
They tell me though to wait for Italy for those are
the shortest guys in Europe compared to the giants

OK - Amsterdam the city - takes my breath away!
Visited Anne Frank's house - got very emotional as we
went through the bookcase, up to the the family room
and into her room. It's so unreal to have read this
girls legacy, her diary and walk through the rooms
that she lived in... I feel very blessed.

The food here... mostly a diet of waffles with Caramel
centers, stinky (but good) cheese, eggs and picnic
meats! The canal tour is a must. The city is so
beautiful. The leaning houses with thousands of
different gables. saw the church that Rembrant is
buried - as well as most of his works at the
RijskMuseum. The massive 3-story organ that Amadeus
played as a teenager.

Gotta go, people are asking to get on.. love you
guys!! Update in Germany, hopefully!